NARA expects to digitally release the 1950 population census schedules for researcher use on April 1, 2022, which is 72 years after the official 1950 census day.  This is the 32nd in a series of blog posts on the 1950 census.


Form P91, 1950 Census of Population – Panama Canal Zone, was the form used by enumerators in that U.S. possession.  The form’s basic population and demographic questions were similar to those asked in the Continental United States, but fewer questions were asked.  There were no questions for “sample” persons and few questions concerning the characteristics of the inhabitants' housing.  Instead, both sides of the form contained space for 30 persons.

Front Side - Form P1, 1950 Census of Population - Panama Canal Zone

Image:  Front side, Form P91, 1950 Census of Population – Panama Canal Zone (Lines 1-30)


“Heading Items” at the top of the form identify where the enumeration took place, adjusted to reflect the political subdivisions used in that possession:

  • Item a.  Court District
  • Item b.  Name of Town
  • Item c.  Enumeration District (E.D.) number
  • Item d.  Date Sheet Started
  • Item e.  Enumerator’s Signature
  • Item f.  Checked by (crew leader's name) on (date).
  • Sheet Number (number) plus “A” (front) or “B” (back)


“For Head of Household” items in columns 1 to 5 ask questions about the household’s dwelling place:

  • Item 1. "Name of street, avenue, or road."
  • Item 2.  "House (and apartment) number."
  • Item 3. “Serial Number of Dwelling Unit” was assigned by the enumerator in order of visitation.
  • Item 4. “How many rooms are in this unit, not counting bathrooms?
  • Item 5. “What is the monthly rent for this unit?"


“Questions for All Persons” Items in columns 6 to 15 are similar to those on the Form P1, discussed previously at 1950 Census:  Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule “Questions for All Persons” except for fewer race options in item 8 and different birthplace options in item 12.  In addition, questions concerning educational attainment were asked of all persons in Panama Canal Zone; in the Continental U.S., the same or similar questions were asked only of persons on sample lines on the Form P1, as discussed in 1950 Census:  Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule Questions 21 to 28 for All Persons on “Sample” Lines.

  • Item 6.  Name.  What is the name of the head of this household?  What are the names of all other persons who live here?  List in this order:  The head; His wife; Unmarried sons and daughters (in order of age); Married sons and daughters and their families; Other relatives; Other persons, such as lodgers, roomers, maids or hired hands who live in, and their relatives.  Have we missed anyone away traveling?  Babies?  Lodgers?  Other persons staying here who have no home anywhere else?
  • Item 7.  Relationship, such as head, wife, daughter, grandson, mother-in-law, lodger, lodger’s wife, maid, hired hand, patient, and so forth.
  • Item 8.  Race, with standard abbreviations “W” for white and “Neg” for Negro and Negro-mixed. Designations of other races were to be written out in full.
  • Item 9.  Sex, with “M” for male and “F” for female.
  • Item 10.  Age.  "How old was he [she] on his [her] last birthday?"  (Enter "Un 1" for child under one year of age.")
  • Item 11.  Marital status.  “Is he [she] now married, widowed, divorced, separated, or never married?” Standard abbreviations were to be used:  “M” for married, “Wd” for widowed, “D” for divorced, “Sep” for separated, and “Nev” for never married.  “Nev” was to be recorded if a person’s only marriage had been annulled.
  • Item 12. Birthplace. "Where was he [she] born?" Standard answers were "CZ" for Panama Canal Zone, "US" for continental United States, or, if born elsewhere, the name of the U.S. Territory, possession, or foreign country.
  • Item 13.  Citizenship status.  If foreign born, is he [she] naturalized?  Standard answers were “Y” for yes, “N” for no, or “AP” for born abroad or at sea of American parents.
  • Item 14.  "What is the highest full grade of school that he [she] has attended?"  Standard abbreviations were:
    • O (zero) - none
    • S1 to S12 for 1st to 12th grades
    • C1 to C 4 for 1st to 4th years of college or professional school immediately after high school
    • C5 - One or more year of graduate or professional school after the 4th year of college
  • Item 15.  For persons age 5 to 24 years, "Has he [she] attended kindergarten, school, or college at any time since February 1st?"  Standard abbreviations were:
    • K for Kindergarten
    • S for School or College
    • Sp for Special School
    • No for None


Questions for Persons 14 years of Age and Over in columns 16 to 23 asked basic employment questions that were similar to those asked on the Form P1 in the continental United States discussed in 1950 Census:  Form P1, Population and Housing Schedule "Questions for Persons Age 14 Years and Over"  Part I.  In addition, males were asked about their military service.

  • Item 16. Military Service.  If male, did he ever serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during (16a) World War II, (16b) World War I, or (16c) any other time including present service?”  (Yes/No).  [Same as Form P1 Items 33a, 33b, and 33c].
  • Item 17.  "What was this person doing most of last week - working, keeping house, or something else?" "Last week" referred to the last full week (Sunday through Saturday) before the enumerator's visit to this household.  Standard responses were "Wk" for working, "H" for keeping house, "Ot" for other, "U" for unable to work.  [Same as Form P1 Item 15]. 
  • Item 18.  If "H" or "Ot" in Item 17, "Did this person do any work at all last week, not including work around the house?  (Yes/No).  [Same as Form P1 Item 16].
  • Item 19.  If "No" in Item 18, "Was he looking for work?" (Yes/No).  [Same as Form P1 Item 17].
  • Item 20.  If "No" in item 19, "Even though he didn't work last week, does he have a job or business?"  [Same as Form P1 Item 18].
  • Item 21.  If "Wk" in item 17 or "Yes" in item 18, "How many hours did he work last week?  [Same as Form P1 Item 19].
  • Item 22.  "Last year (1949), in how many weeks did this person do any work at all, not counting work around the house?"
  • Items 23a, 23b, and 23c, were to be asked of those who answered "Wk" in item 17; "Yes" in items 18, 19, or 20; or worked at least one week in 1949 (item 22). 
    • Item 23a.  “What kind of work did he [she] do? [Same as Form P1 Item 20a].
    • Item 23b.  “In what kind of business or industry did he [she] work?  [Same as Form P1 Item 20b].
    • Item 23c.  “Class of Worker” indicated broad employment categories, with “P” for private employers; “G” for government employers; “O” for those who owned their own business; and “NP” for those who worked without pay on a family farm or business.  [Same as Form P1 Item 20c].

Reverse side - Form P91, 1950 Census of Population - Panama Canal Zone

Image:  Reverse side, Form P91, 1950 Census of Population – Panama Canal Zone  (Lines 31-60)


Future posts will continue our overseas journey with examination of the forms used in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Previous posts discussed: